Senate drama

Senate drama

Opposition on horns of a dilemma after Phillips nominee holds firm to seat

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, December 05, 2020

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A desire by Opposition Leader Mark Golding to have long-time friend and business partner Peter Bunting sit in the Senate now hinges on People's National Party (PNP) member Norman Horne's willingness to step aside following yesterday's revelation that there is no vacancy in the Upper House.

Bunting, the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Manchester Central, was to be sworn in as Senator yesterday, following an announcement on Wednesday by Golding that a recommendation would be made to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to secure his appointment.

It was also announced that Bunting would assume the role of Leader of Opposition Business, following his shock defeat in the September 3 General Election which ended his campaign for a fourth term as MP.

But President of the Senate Tom Tavares Finson, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, confirmed that he could not proceed with the swearing-in process because there was no writ authorising the move.

“I was informed that he was to be sworn in today but the writ that was expected from King's House did not arrive. I subsequently realised that Mr Horne's writ was still in Parliament. So that writ would have to be withdrawn and then a new one prepared for Mr Bunting,” Tavares Finson explained.

The seeming foul-up stems from an announcement by Horne, former PNP treasurer and businessman, in October that he would forgo being sworn in after he and seven other PNP members were recommended for the positions by then Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips.

At that time, Horne, a former Jamaica Labour Party senator, wrote in a statement that being sworn in would be “in great contradiction with my convictions”.

He said that he would be resigning from the Senate on November 6, 2020, to allow the new leader of the Opposition to appoint senators of his choice.

“I will, therefore, be communicating to the governor general and the leader of the Opposition my desire not to be sworn in at this time, mere weeks from November 6 2020,” he said at the time.

The resignation should have been submitted a day before the PNP's leadership race between Golding and Lisa Hanna, however, it was reportedly not submitted.

“In order for that writ to be withdrawn, Mr Horne would have to resign, because under the constitution he is already appointed a senator by the governor general. The swearing-in process at the Senate is essentially a process that allows him to sit in the Senate and vote. But, under the terms of the constitution he would have already been appointed a senator so he would have to resign before Mr Bunting can be appointed,” said Tavares Finson.

“Mr Horne said he was going to inform the governor general but he would have to formally resign. The press [release] is not a resignation,” he added.

Horne could not be reached for comment on the matter.

Calls to Golding's phone also went unanswered.

However, a source inside the Opposition party has informed the Observer that Horne is unlikely to step aside if money allegedly owed to him by the party is not paid.

According to e-mail correspondence, sent to the Observer, between Horne and former General Secretary Julian Robinson, approximately $10 million is owed to the PNP senator.

Following is the e-mail.

Dear Julian,

Hope you are well. As per our agreement regarding the deduction of sums from the $19,380,000.00 owed to me by the party, below please find an accounting of deductions which should have been made as at today's date:

1. The sum of $6,000.00 for my direct membership for the year 2020-2021;

2. The sum of $60,000.00 for prepaid direct membership dues for years 2022-2032;

3. The sum of $1,000,000.00 from which was pledged by me to the party at the 2017 conference;

4. The sum of $149,760.00 for group dues as per the e-mail correspondence sent to you on Thursday, October 1, 2020; and

5. The sum of $486,894.00 for group dues as per the e-mail correspondence sent to you on October 2, 2020.

6. The further sum of approximately $7,677,346.00 to be deducted from the current balance as a personal contribution to the party from me thereby leaving a balance owing of $10,000,000.00.

Kindly confirm in writing that all of the above have been actioned.

Best Regards

Norman Horne CD, JP


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